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Do’s and Don'ts of Getting Hired: Advice from Art Directors for Freelancers

Do’s and Don'ts of Getting Hired: Advice from Art Directors for Freelancers
Published May 8, 2024 by the Behance Team

Art directors and creative directors play pivotal roles in the hiring process, whether it's to engage freelance talent for a specific project or to expand their in-house team. Knowing how to catch their attention and meet their expectations is essential for success. We've gathered insights and advice from creative decision-makers around the world to help you get hired. 

DO: Curate Your Best Work  

“A strong portfolio is crucial as it demonstrates an artist’s ability to potential clients and employers.” says Enrico Siket, owner and creative director of BRAND ᴺᵂ, a multi-disciplinary design studio based in Germany. “We look for portfolios that include a variety of projects, clear descriptions of the artist’s role, and evidence of strategic thinking.”

“We look for quality work, relevance, and variety,” agrees Natalia Shakhaeva, Head of Design at ClickTime Company, a studio specializing in web design and development. “Every artist has their own unique style, but we also pay attention to how they work using different approaches. It’s always a plus when there’s something extra about an artist’s portfolio.” 



DON’T: Overlook Your Goals

“I’ve made the mistake in the past of thinking that ‘the work should speak for itself’ and I couldn’t be more wrong about it,” reflects Lorenzo Bocchi. Over the course of his career, Lorezo has experienced both sides of the client/creative relationship. 

“The best portfolios out there are the ones that are designed with intention and tell the story of the project,” Lorenzo explains. His advice is to focus more on the why. “Start by asking yourself, ‘Who do I want to see my work?” and, ‘What do I want to get out of it?’ The strongest portfolios out there are the ones that tell the story of the projects from inception to delivery.”


Milray Park by Lorenzo Bocchi

DO: Showcase Your Problem Solving Skills

María Barón, a creative director who goes by Susurrros on Behance, emphasizes the importance of demonstrating your ability to tackle challenges through your portfolio. Highlight your contributions to projects and share your process to showcase your problem-solving skills and creative thinking.

“Your portfolio should showcase not only the quality of work but also the ability to tackle diverse projects effectively. Elements like clear organization, storytelling, and a balance between creativity and functionality are key to making a portfolio stand out,” she advises. 


Nyxel Paco by Susurrros (María Barón) and Javier Rojas

DO: Customize Your Portfolio 

While you want to showcase versatility, it’s also important to tailor your portfolio to the job or studio you are applying to. “It’s important to display relevant work and skills for the role. Including too many projects can overwhelm a portfolio; instead, focus on a curated selection of your best work,” says Enrico.

“Quality outperforms quantity every single time,” echoes Lorenzo. “You need to make sure that your work tells a compelling story about your process, how you think about solving problems and coming up with your designs. This is especially true for UX/UI designers but applies to branding too.” 

DON’T: Use Generic Communication

Generic messages are lacking when it comes to making lasting impressions. Personalizing your outreach to the specific needs and preferences of the hirer or client shows that you are attentive, detail-oriented, and genuinely interested in their project. “We appreciate when people take time understanding what we want and use their creativity, even during the first step of communication,” says Natalia.

Emma Amberflaw

Emma Amberflaw / Personal Chef Website by ClickTime Company 

Flattery may not get you everywhere, but it could get you started off on the right foot. “Do your research on the individual that you want to reach out to and start by saying something flattering about one of the projects that they have been working on in the past,” suggests Lorenzo. This acts as a conversation starter and in Lorenzo’s experience, drastically increases the chances of the recipient’s response. 

DO: Hone Your Skill Set

As with any job, you will be judged on your ability to execute. “We value technical proficiency in design software, strategic thinking about design, and a solid understanding of branding and marketing,” shares Enrico. 

"Technical skills, especially in areas relevant to the specific project, are crucial. A portfolio demonstrating versatility and the ability to handle various design challenges is highly valued,” adds María. Keeping your skills up-to-date and continually improving them will not only make you a more attractive candidate to creative directors but also help you excel in your design career.


Sopa by Susurrros (María Barón) 

DON’T: Forget About the Details 

Attention to detail is crucial for designers looking to get hired as it reflects their professionalism and sets the tone for a collaborative and successful working relationship. “Of course, we pay attention to creativity, but some of the very important things we look for are attention to detail, lively mind, and responsibility. We understand that these qualities directly affect work in general and in our field in particular,” says Natalia. 

Enrico echoes this sentiment: "Creativity and attention to detail are critical in our artists, whether freelance or on staff. Additionally, effective communication and teamwork skills are essential." 



DO: Network On and Offline

Networking is key to expanding your opportunities as a designer. “We discover new talent via referrals, social media platforms like Instagram and LinkedIn, and through Behance, where artists can showcase their best work,” shares Enrico. “We also attend design showcases and review portfolios that artists submit directly to our studio.”

Update your availability on Behance to let visitors to your profile know that you’re open to new freelance projects or full-time positions. You can also list a Creative Service for specific types of projects you’re available for.

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